Sergio Perez sought help from mental coach to deal with Red Bull struggles

Thomas Maher
Red Bull's Sergio Perez at the Japanese Grand Prix.

Red Bull's Sergio Perez has been told to leave the team.

Red Bull’s Sergio Perez has explained how he engaged the services of a mental coach during the summer, as he struggled with confidence.

Perez started off the 2023 season in a rich vein of form, winning two of the first four races in what were direct head-to-heads with Max Verstappen. However, defeat in Miami seemed to hit the Mexican driver hard, with his season immediately taking a nose dive at the next race in Miami.

Crashing out in qualifying, Perez has only had flashes of form in the months of racing since, and hasn’t come close to challenging Verstappen again as the Dutch driver sailed on to win 11 of the following 12 Grands Prix.

Sergio Perez: My self-confidence dipping affecting my driving

Speaking in a very candid interview with Dutch publication De Limburger, Perez addressed how his season has played out, revealing that his defeat to Verstappen in Miami marked the start of his confidence issues.

“When the season started, the car suited me perfectly,” he said.

“But cars evolve during the season. After Miami, things went downhill. I had a different car that didn’t suit me so well. Then I failed to get into Q3 several times, so my confidence dropped. As a result, the driving went a lot less as well.

“I struggled a lot in the summer. In the beginning, I was competing for the world title but, from May onwards, that changed. I was driving without confidence.

“At one point I just didn’t come out [of Q2]. That was very tough. Because you drive with a top team, the pressure to perform increases quickly.

“But I didn’t give up and kept working hard with the engineers to sort things out. My self-confidence came back when I realised that I won races under my own steam earlier this year. I dare say I am 100 per cent again now. And I also have the conviction again that I can have a shot at the world title next year.”

Sergio Perez worked with mental coach to ensure no effect on home life

With his professional life not going as well as it could, Perez admitted that this could have played negatively in his home life. However, realising the possibility, he engaged the services of an expert to help him cope with the downside of racing at the top level in Formula 1 while struggling for form.

“Formula 1 is my sport, my life, my passion,” he said.

“When you are having such a hard time with your work, it is difficult to be cheerful at home with your wife and children.

“So I hired a mental coach because my family deserves to have that cheerful father at home. Together with my coach, I worked on becoming the best version of myself at home, but also as a driver.

“As a result, I found positivity again. I am now 33 years old, but I am still learning every day. On the track, but certainly also off it. Partly because of this, I will never get tired of Formula 1. It’s really amazing what this sport still gives me.”

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With Perez under contract with Red Bull until the end of 2024, the big question mark for him is what comes next? Is Perez ready to step down from Formula 1 in just over 12 months time, or does he hope to secure an extension with his current team?

“I am grateful to Red Bull for giving me the opportunity to come out for a top team,” he said.

“After all, I am a driver who is not from their own training programme. It would be great if I can finish my career here.

“But being a driver with this team is not easy. Red Bull Racing operates in a different way than most teams. But that is also why they are so successful.

“In my view, their car is built from a different approach to the other teams. It takes time to get used to that. And, of course, you have to deal with Max Verstappen as a teammate. The past has proven that that is no easy task. Few drivers can handle that pressure. I sometimes call it: the toughest job in Formula 1.”

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